When you have a chronic illness you are constantly being hit with all this information, and not all of it is accurate. You’ll hear things from doctors, friends and family, and even other people with chronic illness that just aren’t true. Here’s the lies I’ve heard the most.
You can cure your illness by taking (insert miracle cure here)
If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness by a competent doctor (and I do stress the word competent) who has informed you that there is no cure, there is no cure. There are many ways to manage your disease whether you have chronic pain or you live with debilitating fatigue, but no magic answers. When people find out you have a chronic illness they will come out of the woodwork to sell you cures. You’ll get offers for cures with essential oils, shakes, diets, exercise programs, special kinds of meditation, magic vitamins etc. These things might help you manage your disease, but they will not cure you if your doctor says there is no cure.
If you go to the doctor you’ll find answers
Unfortunately the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of doctors just don’t care. They don’t care that you’re sick, they don’t care that you’ve lost part of your life, and they don’t care to help you find the right answers unless those answers can be found in 15 minutes or less. This is especially a problem if you are a woman. Women face a lot of sexist attitudes from doctors that create barriers to quality care. It’s not uncommon to hear:
- women are just overly emotional
- women just need to calm down and not get so overexcited
- women always exaggerate their pain
- usually women with these symptoms are just on their period
- this is just one of those things that women have to deal with
If you are able to find one of those rare doctors that is willing to help and who will take you seriously, chances are they will not be able to make you better. They will however be able to help you manage your illness so your life can be as normal as possible. Unfortunately these doctors are very rare, so if you find one never let them go.
Managing chronic illness isn’t a big deal
There’s a lot of people with chronic illness and many doctors that remain constantly optimistic about life with chronic illness. These people are wonderful and their positive attitude is sorely needed in the chronic illness community. However, in the interest of keeping a good attitude the difficult aspects of living with chronic illness is often overlooked. Managing a chronic illness is hard work. My sister and I like to joke that managing our illnesses are our jobs, and they are full time. Scheduling doctors appointments, filling prescriptions, cooking healthy food, and managing lifestyle changes are all things that are tiring and difficult. Yes we can live fulfilling lives by having a positive attitude while we deal with this things, but they do change every aspect of how we live.
The physical symptoms are the hardest part of living with chronic illness
Often it is not the physical pain and suffering that is the most difficult, it’s the emotional complications that come with it. There is so much guilt that comes with burdening the people around you, guilt because you can’t do what you used to, guilt because you make other people’s lives harder, the guilt train can go on forever. Plus you don’t only have to handle your emotions about your illness, you have to handle the emotions of others. When people get frustrated with your illness it feels like a personal attack and it hurts. Not to mention the emotional complications of dealing with people who think you’re faking your illness. I can’t even sum up the emotional complications in one paragraph because they are so huge. Having a chronic illness means you’re always on an emotional roller coaster as well as a physical one. The minute you feel like you’re getting to a point where you’re doing well emotionally you get hit with something else and you have to start over. It’s not easy.
I don’t want to sound all doom and gloom about life with chronic illness. Chronic illness can change your life in a positive way, it can even make you awesome, but it does take a significant amount of work.